Ana Marie Cox of Wonkette at trendy convention-related party last summer, left (Chris Buck for The New York Times) and sadder-not-wiser former good-time girl Françoise Sagan (Sichov/European Pressphoto Agency), who just passed away
"I think love is like an illness, an intoxication. Sometimes I've been intoxicated for three or four years, but never more," wrote Françoise Sagan, who has died at 69. Her New York Times obituary today ironically called to mind blogger Wonkette's perhaps premature obituary in the New York Times Magazine's cover story, purportedly about the blog phenomenon. First Françoise:
Ms. Sagan had an enormous international success with Bonjour Tristesse, about an amoral teenager who sets out to keep her philandering widowed father from marrying again. The novel was originally published in France in 1954. The following year an English translation reached No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Ms. Sagan was only 19, making her the youngest author to achieve that feat at the time.
In a 1993 interview before her second drug trial, Ms. Sagan recalled: "I had incredible luck because just when I grew up, the pill came along. When I was 18, I used to die with fear of being pregnant, but then it arrived, and love was free and without consequence for nearly 30 years. Then AIDS came. Those 30 years coincided with my adulthood, the age for having fun."
She once told an investigating magistrate: "I believe I have a right to destroy myself as long as it does not harm anyone . . . After two years at the Sorbonne, with much time spent in cafes and little studying, she failed crucial year-end examinations in June 1953, angering her family. She felt she "had to do something" to placate them, she would recall, so she sat down and wrote Bonjour Tristesse in August.
Wonkette is portrayed -- albeit inadvertently -- in the New York Times Magazine cover story today [via Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, who notes "I don’t trust myself to write what I really feel about Klam’s outrageously slanted piece."] as a last gasp of Sagan's poignant p.c. little-girl-lost world view. Beatrix Potter's Miss Moppet comes to mind. Listen to NYT author Matthew Klam's take on what blogging is all about. It turns out it's really all about Matthew himself -- a lefty gossip columnist who fancies himself a "journalist" -- starstruck at having managed to tag along with the blogosphere's golden girl -- "Ana Marie Cox has peachy cream skin and eyes of a very bright blue, strawberry blond hair and a filthy mind; she likes to analyze our nation's leaders in their most private, ah, parts" -- to the most glamorous parties surrounding the political conventions this summer:
Before we went off to the fabulous party that Americans for Tax Reform were throwing at the New York Yacht Club on Monday night, we had time for an expensive dinner at a really nice restaurant in SoHo. Wonkette hadn't been anywhere near the Tank, and when I told her about the scene there, she laughed. ''They've got the raw carrots and radishes,'' she said, ''and we've got the raw tuna appetizer.'' [Let them eat cake?] The candlelight reflected off the Champagne bubbles in her glass. ''Other bloggers don't consider me a real blogger,'' she said. ''Kos is the platonic ideal of a blogger: he posts all the time; he interacts with his readers.'' She swallowed an oyster and smiled. ''I hate all that.''
She dropped out of a Ph.D. program in history at the University of California at Berkeley and found happiness for a few years at Suck.com, a snarky social-commentary Web site from the first Internet heyday . . . Finally, last fall, she gave up on journalism. She was filling out applications for a master's in social work when Nick Denton called . . . Wonkette had seemed like the perfect stepping stone to something big. Now she had to consider, What if Wonkette was as good as it gets?
We're reminded of John Philip Sousa, like Ana Maria Cox an all-American original, who imagined himself a Puccini but only managed to write the best American marching music ever was.